The Emergence of Japan

By: Donovan Spann & Xzandria Wells

Geography Sets Japan Apart


Located on an archipelago (Chain of islands)

About the size of Montana

Four-fifths of the land are too mountainous to farm

Mild Climate (Sufficient rain) helps farmers make the most of the land

Surrounding seas protect, isolate, maintain identity, and serve as trade routes

Close enough to mainland to be impacted by China & Korea but to far to be conquered

Lies in the Ring of Fire (Chain of volcanoes in the Pacific ocean)

Effected by tsunamis (killer tidal waves launched by underwater earthquakes)

Early Traditions

Japanese people-

Suspected to have migrated from Asia 2000 years ago

Slowly pushed early inhabitants onto northernmost island of Hokkaido

Divided into Uji or clans

Yamato Clan-

Came to dominate Japan's largest island Honshu around AD 500

Yamato Plain heartland of Japanese government for 1000 years

First and only dynasty

Claimed to be defendants of Amaterasu (The sun goddess)

Religion of Nature-

Worship known as Shinto

Not a international religion but still popular in Japan

Hundreds of shrines dot the Japanese countryside

Korean Connection-

Language distant to Korean but completely different from Chinese

Continuous contact with Korea

Koreans brought skills and technology to Japan but still had constant conflict

Korean missionaries brought Buddhism to Japan and knowledge of Chinese culture and writing

Japan Looks to China

Prince Shotoku of the Yamato clan sends Japanese nobles to study in China

The visitors spend a year or two studying and return and spread Chinese knowledge

Japanese rulers adopt ideas of absolute power, central government, bureaucracy and a law code

In 710 the capital of Nara modeled Chinese cultures

Chinese characters were used to write official histories

Pagoda architecture adopted as Buddhism spread

Confucian ideas also take root

Japanese selectively borrowed Chinese culture

The people assert their identity by revising the Chinese system of writing by adding kana

The Heian Period (794-1185)